Hermès Autumn Winter -99 is Just as Relevant Now as 1999

Hermès AW99 via Condé Nast Archives
Published 14/09/2020
By: xxx Published: d/m/Y

I guess at some point in life you realize nothing is particularly new anymore. Wow, hello darkness?

Let me rephrase that a little. At some point in your fashion life (LOL), you realize everything has already been made. Fashion is a 360 thing and some time, sooner or later, everything comes back into style. I think this is when you stop liking clothes for just being new cool clothes and start reflecting on how they make you feel instead. Maybe you did before too, I can only speak for myself. But being brought up in the 90s, lived through the thin strap tanks, baggy jeans and small sunglasses on to the 00s where pink eyeshadow was the best option for a casual night home with SingStar and onto the 10s where ripped jeans, stud heels and oversize blazers ruled the fashion world, I feel torn. Where can I place myself in this? Am I stuck in this wheel where cowboy boots become trendy and then hated and then trendy and again hated every 10 years forever, just because I like fashion? I realized no and found myself searching beyond the actual garments, trends and eras tp remain with only one question (well it is a two-part question) to ask myself: what do I feel empowered in and why don’t I just wear only that?

So, this season is a bit different to me than previous ones. Gone are the super bright colors and fluffy glitter accessories and left are the grounded staples I rely on when I have nothing else to wear (which of course is never true). I am not the only one who has these feelings and I guess they are very given for the time being when everything is a bit off, to say the least. This has had me digging deep into the fashion archives via books and of course this pretty place called the world wide web.

Hermès AW99 via Condé Nast Archives

I almost poured my coffee over my keyboard when I clicked through the complete collection of Hermès Autumn/Winter 1999.

Hello Autumn/Winter 2020, is that you, you little bastard time traveler?

The Belgian designer Martin Margiela is unknown to everyone but the people who work with him. Everyone who knows fashion even slightly has heard of him, but only a very chosen few know who he is since he has never given a proper interview.

When Margiela was given the prestigious job, Creative Director of iconic Hermès in April 1998 people wondered, how is he gonna manage? Martin Margiela was relatively new to the business, only 10 years active, but had been making a name for himself as the master of deconstruction- anyone who has seen the Tabi Boots knows.

Hermès AW99 via Condé Nast Archives

When he presented his first collection, the Autumn Winter 1998 nobody was particularly amazed. Neither had he cut the iconic Kelly bag in half nor were anyone wearing four deconstructed shirts backward or upsidedown. Martin Margiela’s time at Hermès wouldn’t provoke with its innovation but in its immutability. 

In the 5 year period, he was the Creative Director of Hermès Margiela focused on quality, tailoring, and how the women who carried his clothes felt while wearing them. He made them feel powerful, easy, even happy, and like they could do anything they wanted to. And as we know, that last part has always been just as provoking to some as it is powerful to others. 

Can one say, no Margiela for Hermès, no Pheobe Philo for Céline? Their philosophy is not about the clothes but how the women feel whilst wearing the clothes, is not that far apart. 

Hermès AW99 via Condé Nast Archives
Hermès AW99 via Condé Nast Archives

So, I want your honest opinion now. How relevant are these runway photos of Hermès Fall Winter 1999 Show exactly right now?

“Anybody who’s aware of what life is in a contemporary world is influenced by Margiela.” Marc Jacobs once said and looking at what the fashion world has been up to the lately he might be onto something.

I could have sworn they were The Row or Toteme if the quality of the photos weren’t so poor. Of course, no shade on neither The Row nor Toteme, I am a huge fan and both brands has manage to build a very strong identity in comparatively short time. These brands are almost like a cult with women dying over every collection and swear to not be able to wear any other brand. Of course, it’s quite an expensive cult but then again, many cults are. Or so I’ve been told.

The Row AW20?

Old Céline AW16?

But the true message that Margiela delivered with his collections for Hermès was the same as Pheobe Philo did: it’s not about the clothes you wear. It’s not about how much one can spend on a cashmere sweater or how very fine fiber wool trousers one owns. It’s about the woman in that sweater and those pants. How she likes to present herself to the world and how her clothes help her feel like she can do anything if not more.
Margiela told us that in hidden messages by pairing suit trousers with sneakers and Pheobe did as well when she gave us wellies with evening gowns. If packaged right, anyone can accomplish anything.

Hermès AW99 via Condé Nast Archives
Hermès AW99 via Condé Nast Archives

Published 14/09/2020

Fanny Ekstrand is a writer, creative consultant and founder of Hobnob. She says she is the master of vintage shopping and knows all the pasta dishes in the world.

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